Attachment disorder is a broad term used to describe emotional and behavioural issues arising from failure to form healthy attachments to parental figures in early childhood. These issues include abuse, neglect or seperation. An individuals attachment style is determined permenantly before the age of 3.
Types of Attachment:
According to Mary Ainsworth, there are three main types of attachment.
Children with a secure attachment child are confident that their caregiver will be able to provide for their needs. They will use their caregiver as a safe place whilst they explore their environments independantly. In times of distress they are able to reach out to their caregivers. They are easily reassured by their caregivers.
Insecure avoidant children are independant of their caregivers both physically and emotionally. They do not face their caregiver while they are in play and are indifferent to a caregivers reassurance when they are distressed. There caregivers are unlikely to attend to their needs.
The final attachment style is one where the child will display clingy behaviour towards their caregiver only to reject being comforted. The child does not feel security from their caregiver. When they are distressed they are difficult to reassure and do not calm down from interaction with their caregiver. This attachment style comes from having an inconsistent attendance to the childs needs. The caregiver may occasionally respond but other times will not.
Problems Resulting from Unhealthy Attachment:
There are various issues that can arrise from having an unhealthy attachment style. These issues can affect all parts of an adults life including their relationship with their own children.
Those with anxious attachment styles may be self critical in their adult life. This results in you seeking a partner that can reassure your self worth. The anxiety will also be present in adult relationships. You can be clingy and jealous out of fear that your partner will leave you.
Those with an avoidant attachment style may be very distant in their relationships. This can result in partners and friends feeling uncared about. You may run away from relationships when they become to intimate – depriving yourself of something that you may well find some joy in.
Various mental health issues can also arise from unhealthy attachment styles. These include:
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Seperation anxiety disorder
- Reactive attachment disorder
- Disinhibited attachment disorder
If you want some improvement in the quality of your relationships, attachment therapy can help. This type of therapy will help you examine your relationship with your caregiver and your previous romantic relationships. Negative behavioural patterns will be assessed and then steps can be taken to counteract them.
Dialectical behavioural therapy can also be very affective in helping you regulate your emotions and find effective ways of communicating.